Tag Archives: Zimbabwe.

One Zimbabwe success story

First Street in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Gary Bembridge, Creative Commons

First Street in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Gary Bembridge, Creative Commons

In great contrast to the Borgia world of Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe — the subject of last week’s column by International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe  — is the skill, imagination, talent, determination and sheer hard work that ordinary Africans have to employ to survive and succeed.  Manthorpe offers a tale, One man’s thrust for survival in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Excerpt:

It was mid-December, the height of yet another summer of drought in Zimbabwe, and I was making the early morning coffee when there was a loud cracking and wrenching noise from the garden.

It was a noise I’d never heard before, so loud and tortured it was clear something momentous had happened outside. I walked through the house to the French doors and out on to the tiled patio, the terra cotta red of the African earth. It was an extraordinary sight. The trunk of massive, old Albizia tree down by what passed for a swimming pool had split in half down its whole length. The Albizia is known as the “flat crown tree” because its branches spread wide and grow up to an almost equal height, making it one of the most popular shade trees in Africa, for humans and wildlife alike. For this one, however, the weight of its spreading branches had suddenly become too much for the trunk to bear and it had wrenched itself apart.

Nefius, our gardener who lived in a three-room shamva at the top of the garden, and Phillip, our overnight security guard, who was just about to set off on his two-hour bicycle ride home, were already examining the wreckage and laughing loudly. And indeed, there was a comic, burlesque quality to the dramatic way the tree had suddenly decided to give up the ghost. But it was also very inconvenient. My family and I were due to fly out of Zimbabwe that night on our annual three-week leave. The wood from the tree would be an excellent stock of fuel for the fireplace in the house — very necessary in the chilly winters at Harare’s high altitude – for Nefius to use for cooking and for our brais – the southern African word for barbecues. But this was clearly too big a job for Nefius alone with just our bow saw and axe for tools. Phillip volunteered to help Nefius cut up and stack our windfall if he could have some of the wood. … log in to read more (paywall*)

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Manthorpe on Gucci Grace, Zimbabwe’s “most reviled and hated woman”

Robert and Grace Mugabe. Photo by Dandjk Roberts via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Robert and Grace Mugabe. Photo by Dandjk Roberts via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

In 1996, the year Robert Mugabe married Grace Goreraza, life for the majority of Zimbabweans was probably the best it ever had been, or was to be since, writes International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. Many give credit for country’s good times to Mugabe’s late wife Sally. Since then, the country has been in free fall. “Grace has a lust for power and wealth almost beyond the country’s power to provide for her passions. Grace has become the most reviled and hated woman in Zimbabwe,” he writes. Excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column,  The Rise of “Gucci Grace,” Zimbabwe’s “First Shopper”:

Sally Mugabe was much loved in Zimbabwe and many believed, with some justice, that it was only her steadying hand that stopped her husband, President Robert Mugabe, from becoming the feral tyrant that emerged after her death.

In the months before her death in January, 1992, it was widely known in Harare that she would soon be taken by the liver disease from which she had suffered for several years. It was also known that the President had not waited to become a widower before seeking comfort elsewhere. At least three years before Sally’s death Mugabe had taken one of his secretaries, Grace Goreraza, as his mistress. More than that, he had two children by Grace. A daughter, Bona, named for the President’s Mother, was born around 1989, and a boy, Robert Jr, was born a few months after Sally died.

The story circulating in Zimbabwe at the time, and widely believed, illustrates the esteem in which Sally Mugabe was held, but it also attempted to save Robert Mugabe’s reputation. Sally Hayfron was a Ghanaian studying at a teacher’s college in what was then Southern Rhodesia where she met Robert Mugabe. They married in 1961 and the couple had a son, Michael, in 1963. But Sally and Robert were both deeply involved in the fight against the white minority government in Rhodesia. They lived lives on the run or in detention or prison. The boy developed a severe case of malaria and died in 1966.

Sally Mugabe was unable to have more children. So, as her death approached in the early 1990s, the story around Harare was that Sally had not been deceived or jilted by her husband. … log in to read  The Rise of “Gucci Grace,” Zimbabwe’s “First Shopper” (paywall*)

Click here for Jonathan Manthorpe’s columnist page or here to purchase a $1 day pass or subscription.

*You’ll find lots of great free stories inside our site, but much of our original work is behind a paywall — we do not sell advertising, and reader payments are essential for us to continue our work. Journalism to has value, and we need and appreciate your support (a day pass is $1 and a monthly subscription is less than a cup of coffee). 

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

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Zimbabwe’s new colonial master

It looks increasingly as though Zimbabwe’s peasant farmers have simply exchanged colonial masters, writes International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. An excerpt of his new column, China accepts tribute from its vassal, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe:

640px-Mugabecloseup2008

That significance is likely to grow early next year, when Mugabe is the odds-on favourite to be selected leader of the 54-member African Union (AU). The stage was set for Mugabe to be given this accolade last week when he was chosen unanimously to be chair of the 15-member Southern African Development Community.

Next year is southern Africa’s turn to provide the AU leadership, and Mugabe’s anti-colonial, freedom fighter history (actually, he was a behind-the-scenes schemer, not a fighter) still resonates with his brother leaders. His gross mismanagement of his own country and abuse of his people, a third of whom have fled abroad, is a secondary consideration.

But it will be a feather in Beijing’s cap to have its own man at the head of the AU …  click here toread China accepts tribute from its vassal, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe (Subscription required*).

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Who will succeed Robert Mugabe?

640px-Mugabecloseup2008

Robert Mugabe. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Lock, United States Air Force, U.S. government photo (public domain)

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is 90. He has never named a successor and there are indications he enjoys the confusion he spreads by seeming to favour one candidate and then another, writes International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. It is a measure of his ability to confuse that there is much chatter in Zimbabwe that he may resign at the December meeting, but there is an equally strong contingent that says Mugabe intends to die in office. An excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column:

It offers a glimpse into the dark recesses of Robert Mugabe’s soul that he has remained in power in Zimbabwe for over three decades by the masterful manipulation of his opponents’ weaknesses.

Some have been bought off. Others have had their gluttony for the trappings of power sated to the point of political surfeit and suicide. Those lusting to grab Mugabe’s political power have been tricked and trapped into exposing their own ambitions, and then removed.

When all else has failed, Mugabe’s opponents have died, usually in questionable circumstances.

But now Mugabe is 90 years old and time is running out, barring a Faustian deal to live forever – which many adherents of traditional culture in Zimbabwe would consider entirely plausible.

Log in to read the column, Contest to succeed Zimbabwe’s Mugabe heats up. (Subscription or day pass required*)

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South Africa’s solidarity unravelling

South Africa’s unlikely alliance, of forces drawn together by opposition to apartheid, was always expected to unravel, notes international affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. That is now happening because, with public disgust at corruption and incompetence within the African National Congress (ANC) government — and not least a scorching new report by the nation’s Public Protector, the balance has shifted. Excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column:

Public Protector Adv.Thuli Madonsela

South African Public Protector Thulisile Madonsela. Photo credit Public Protector office

… while Mandela remained alive it seemed almost sacrilegious to seriously argue that the ANC has betrayed its cause. Even the rise to the leadership of the ANC and South Africa’s presidency of Jacob Zuma, a man whose rise to power is littered with sexual and corruption scandals, was not enough to outweigh the blessings of the Mandela legacy.

However, the shift in the balance between past and present seems to have arrived this week, and even as campaigning has begun for the May 7 general election.

The highly respected Public Prosecutor Thuli Madosela on Wednesday released her damning report into the $23 million in public money spent on building Zuma a rural family compound displaying “opulence on a grand scale” at Nkandla in the hills of KwaZulu-Natal, one of the poorest of South Africa’s provinces.

Log in to read the column Mandela’s heritage tainted by President Zuma’s graft.   ($1 site day pass or subscription required*)

 

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